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Katta Venkataratnam and ors. Vs. the Secretary of State for India in Council Represented by the Collector of West Godavari - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1938Mad318; (1938)1MLJ187
AppellantKatta Venkataratnam and ors.
RespondentThe Secretary of State for India in Council Represented by the Collector of West Godavari
Excerpt:
.....of authority in the matter of grants of crown land to various officers, clearly declares that valuable waste lands or valuable poramboke lands which are assigned after they are converted into assessed lands, should ordinarily be sold in public auction, the other alternative methods of disposal being sales in certain cases to applicants at a fixed price instead of by public auction, and assignment even under the dharkast rules, that is to say, free grant to members of the depressed classes subject to certain conditions. it is clear therefore that valuable lands, like the lands concerned in the present suit, could not have been granted to the daffadar, in question, who was not a member of the depressed classes, and the original grant must therefore be considered to have been..........j., can be disposed of briefly. the case relates to a grant of three acres of valuable land by the revenue divisional officer to the daffadar of his office in june, 1922. that grant was set aside by the collector in june, 1925, under his revisional powers just within three years after the original grant. the original suit was instituted by the sons of the grantee to declare the collector's order null and void and the original grant by the revenue divisional officer valid. it must be mentioned in this connection that subsequent to the grant, the land had been improved at some expense by the grantee and the collector granted one acre out of the three acres to the sons of the grantee as compensation for the improvement. the learned district munsiff who heard this suit, dismissed it as he.....
Judgment:

Pandrang Row, J.

1. This Letters Patent Appeal from the judgment of Varadachariar, J., can be disposed of briefly. The case relates to a grant of three acres of valuable land by the Revenue Divisional Officer to the daffadar of his office in June, 1922. That grant was set aside by the Collector in June, 1925, under his revisional powers just within three years after the original grant. The original suit was instituted by the sons of the grantee to declare the Collector's order null and void and the original grant by the Revenue Divisional Officer valid. It must be mentioned in this connection that subsequent to the grant, the land had been improved at some expense by the grantee and the Collector granted one acre out of the three acres to the sons of the grantee as compensation for the improvement. The learned District Munsiff who heard this suit, dismissed it as he was of opinion that the original grant by the Revenue Divisional Officer was null and void and that the Collector's order cancelling it was within the scope of his authority. The Subordinate Judge in appeal was of opinion that the grant was not in excess of the powers of the Revenue Divisional Officer and that there was no mistake of fact which entitled the Collector to exercise his revisional powers. The second appeal was instituted by the Secretary of State for India and that second appeal was allowed by Varadachariar, J., who at the same time granted leave to appeal. Really the two substantial questions which arise in this case are those raised in paragraphs 6 and 10 of the written statement filed by the Collector which run as follows:

6. There is a clear prohibition against the free grant of valuable lands under B.S.O. No. 15 and the grant of the suit land by the Revenue Divisional Officer, Bhimavaram, is illegal and ultra vires.

10. Civil Courts have no jurisdiction to question the acts of Revenue Officers acting within the scope of their authority.

2. If these contentions are right, then it follows that the suit must fail and the judgment of our learned brother was right.

3. As regards the first point, B.S.O. No. 15 which defines the limits of delegation of authority in the matter of grants of crown land to various officers, clearly declares that valuable waste lands or valuable poramboke lands which are assigned after they are converted into assessed lands, should ordinarily be sold in public auction, the other alternative methods of disposal being sales in certain cases to applicants at a fixed price instead of by public auction, and assignment even under the dharkast rules, that is to say, free grant to members of the depressed classes subject to certain conditions. It is clear therefore that valuable lands, like the lands concerned in the present suit, could not have been granted to the daffadar, in question, who was not a member of the depressed classes, and the original grant must therefore be considered to have been absolutely devoid of authority. It is not a case of the Revenue Divisional Officer acting in excess of his authority but it is a case of his acting without authority altogether. This seems to us quite clear and does not require much argument to support it. A reference to the actual wording of the Board's Standing Order in question is sufficient.

4. As regards the other point, the revisional jurisdiction of the Collector as it stood when he exercised it in the present case, that is to say, in 1925, enabled him to cancel the grant made by Revenue Divisional Officer if that grant was in excess of the limits of the latter's authority and if the interests of the Government or of the public were affected thereby. In the present case it is obvious that the grant was in excess of the authority conferred on the Revenue Divisional Officer and it was also adverse to the interests of the Government as a free grant of valuable land must necessarily affect the interest of the Government adversely. It must therefore be held that the Collector acted within the scope of the authority conferred upon him by B.S.O. No. 15 when he cancelled the grant in June, 1925. When once the conditions necessary for the exercise of the Revisional Authority are satisfied it is not open to a Civil Court to consider whether the order passed by the Collector in the exercise of such authority was right or wrong on the merits. In other words Civil Courts cannot exercise revisional jurisdiction in respect of any order of the Collector which is within his revisional jurisdiction. These reasons are, in our opinion, quite sufficient to show that the second appeal was rightly allowed and the suit rightly dismissed. In the circumstances of the case, however, there will be no order as to costs in this appeal.


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